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Weekend Stake Tip: The Robin Flies

No betting for me… I’m saving my current bankroll for Breeders’ Cup! The race of the week went better than I thought; a super tough race to figure out, the Raven Run (II) at Keeneland fell to the dominant Gypsy Robin who I sent off as my second choice. First choice/value pick Drama Drama, who went off at a crazy 22-1 was too far back but closed like crazy to be third and just missed the place by 1/2 length. Third choice Mercy Lou (55-1) had an odd start, went super wide, and closed from way back just like I predicted to be 6th (4th-6th were tightly bunched as well). If anything, watch this race for the beautiful foliage at Keeneland.

I feel much better now about my picking business as we get closer to the Breeders’ Cup. SLUMP IS GONE! /knocks on wood

I don’t normally tell you guys how hard a time I’m having with a particular race, but oh my god that one was a stickler. When that happens, I do my don’t-look-at-the-morning-line handicapping analysis, then I go read/watch expert opinions which somehow helps me clarify my “feels.” DRF liked Via Villaggio, while others seemed to like Yankee Union who I thought was okay, but I couldn’t make sense out of their thoughts! Expert handicappers sometime pick really weird horses and don’t really explain why, which I kind of need from them or else I wind up thinking they’re full of bologna. I guess it’s why I detest the talky DRF and enjoy the on-track handicappers at Gulfstream Park and the NYRA.

While Gypsy Robin enjoyed what looked like an easy romp, Belmont Park was abuzz with their New York-bred stakes program and the Empire Classic setup for a thrilling showdown between 5-year-old Juddmonte speedster Lunar Victory and Bill Parcell’s late-blooming 3-year-old Saratoga Snacks. I was personally hoping for a Snacks win, but he certainly did not discredit himself after the intense, back-and-forth stretch duel against his elder. And then of course, if you haven’t caught Frankel's final race in the Champion Stakes (ENG-I), he made his fans proud and raucous at Ascot breaking badly then rallying to catch Cirrus des Aigles on soft ground.

Racing Beat: October 14

Next horse I think we’ll hear about being retired: Astrology. No recent works, last race was a June allowance at Churchill where he ran 6th of 7. His pedigree’s just too good to keep him going at 5.

Cirrus des Aigles is probably my favorite Euro pony right now.

What’s this I hear about yet another promising youngster from Calder? No, really, that’s all I heard.

As though summoned by the wave of horses named similarly to her books (which I have not read), the author of the Fifty Shades of Grey series has bought three racehorses  to be named Fifty Shades Freed, Fifty Shades of Grey (obviously a grey colt), and Fifty Shades Darker. The horses will be trained by George Baker and be ridden by female jockeys (yet to be named). I don’t know how I feel about this…

One of the first underdog “Saratoga stars” I photographed this summer won a stakes at Keeneland this week. Madame Giry launched a huge upset over Stopshoppingmaria in the first race on Whitney Day and has obviously come a long way!

Who do you think is more successful financially… the professional handicappers that work for, say, DRF or Equibase giving out their picks to subscribers, or the people at places like Winning Ponies who don’t represent anyone but still sell their picks to people?

Best of luck to Paynter on continuing his rehab at WinStar.

One of the best times of the year is coming up with the Breeders’ Cup along the worst as ponies who don’t finish as well as they were supposed to get sporadically retired. There’s always a couple of surprises.

Obviously, after that last win, the connections of Obviously are obviously supplementing the horse into the BC Mile.

I still don’t know where Bo Derek came from…

Real promise of commitment in the right place: major breeding farms like WinStar, Darley, Castleton Lyons, and others have committed 25% of their 2013 advertised fees (hey there big bucks Bernardini!) to Thoroughbred aftercare.

Most exciting BC races in order: 1) Ladies Classic 2) Turf Mile 3) Juvenile Fillies, but the most personal attachments race in the Juvenile Turf for me.

Tweet o’ the Week:

Racing Beat: July 8

Fasig-Tipton’s July yearling sale is going to be topping the headlines this month. While it’s not as big as the Keeneland September sale, I wonder if any Triple Crown leg winners will be sold on the cheap in this one. I think I’ll pick out some favorites from the catalog and then see what they end up selling for… oh yes, there will be plenty of blaze faces and pretty grays!

I’m in the “Cirrus des Aigles is innocent of extreme doping” camp, and no, it’s not because I’m blindly fanatic. It’s because it would make no sense to dose him that much when you know he’s likely to hit the board than not, thus practically requiring him to be tested.

I feel a little dizzy just thinking that the Breeders’ Cup is less than 4 months away. What the… 2012, where did you go?

I love it when I suddenly remember a horse I haven’t seen or heard lately and I almost immediately find word of him/her; I saw a guy on TV with the last name, and Friday I heard Wharton is warming up at Vinery for a return to the races. Zing!

Mike Smith is going to have a lot of choices on who to ride in the big Classic should things keep up.

English Derby winner Kris Kin sold to… Libya. I was not aware they even had horse racing… let’s hope nobody in the West Indies wants to buy Trinniberg.

Rest in peace, Jorge Herrera.

Words cannot describe how depressed I am over So You Think [IRE]'s retirement. Thanks a lot, butt muscles.

I’m thinking of doing a Breeders’ Cup documentary next year, being that I AM a film major and I WOULD like to get into sports documentaries and I DO have at least one professional contact with experience doing them. Maybe fundraise for it via Kickstarter. HMMM… IT DOES TAKE ABOUT A YEAR TO PLAN A FILM…

Call me a Snooty McSnootypants, but I still feel like the public deserves a little more insight into I’ll Have Another. It’s bad enough they walked him on the track at Hollywood, but not at Belmont…

Tweet o’ the Week: Watch out for this one at the races… credit goes to Icantloseyouincrowdedrooms for posting it!

That’s One Gutsy Gelding

Cirrus des Aigles wasn’t seen as much of a contender in comparison to the rest of the field in the QIPCO Champions Stakes (I), the climax race of Champions Day at Ascot, but boy did this gelding fire when it counted.

Breaking cleanly from the gate, Cirrus des Aigles shuffled back from contention early, but managed to turn it on full blast turning for home to pass leaders Nathaniel and Ransom Note. Dueling head-to-head with favorite So You Think, who sat just behind the leaders, all the way down to the wire, the five-year-old gelding edged the multi-G1 winner to take the $2 million-plus race while scoring a major upset and breaking the track record for 10 furlongs (2:02.52).

While the result was stunning, what was even more unbelievable was the aftermath of it all: Cirrus’s jockey Christophe Soumillon was the latest victim of Britain’s whip reform, as he used the stick on the gelding six times in the final furlong. The current limit is seven times total in a race, but no more than five times in the final furlong— which many jockeys argue is frequently the only time they really utilize the whip.

No doubt, the dark cloud of controversy dampened the Champions meet quite a bit and will probably affect current racing reform in Britain concerning the whip.

Third place in the Arc, Snow Fairy repeated for a very close third again in the race after being trapped on the rail.

Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.

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